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Drawing on the Beat:  John Falter's Jazz Portraits


John MinceDrawing on the Beat: John Falter's Jazz Portraits, featured over fifty drawings, prints, and paintings by Nebraska-born illustrator John Falter. One of American's best-known illustrators, John Falter was born in Plattsmouth in 1910 and grew up in Falls City. In addition to his famous Saturday Evening Post covers and World War II recruiting posters, Falter also completed a series of works based on his life-long interest in jazz music.

Most of the drawings in the exhibit were made during the 1971 Colorado Jazz Party held in Colorado Springs. These works formed the basis of Falter's 1971 "Jazz from Life" portfolio of prints. The exhibit also included drawings Falter made at other jazz parties as well as several of his oil paintings of jazz giants, including Louis Armstrong. A special listening station featured selections from twelve of the musicians depicted in Falter's works.

Falter was a musician himself, and in 1926 played in the house band of the Gehling Theater in Falls City along with another Falls City native, George "Pee Wee" Erwin, who is one of the subjects of Falter's drawings. Falter's love of jazz and insight into the music comes through in the feeling expressed in many of the drawings. His jazz portraits successfully capture the immediacy and vibrancy of performers in action.

Funding for this exhibit was generously provided by the Berman Music Foundation of Lincoln.

The exhibit ended April 30, 2000.

Nebraska History Museum

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